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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Apr 21, 2011 8:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more "out of the closet"

I was listing to 11/15/69 yesterday , and I was wondering (PAGING OLD TIMERS ) what is was like to expect to see a "psychedelic band" and see a show ,like this, where ( other than Chinacat, and Cosmic Charlie ) is is mostly shorter, non psych songs, bunch of them unknown , and one long blue vamp rap ending .
It would been exciting, but I can imagine walking out, and thinking, "... hey , no Dark Star, St. Stephen, Other one ..."
In that era before widespread tape trading, and no fanzines , etc. I would guess it was word of mouth . And back then the band was evolving constantly , so you might not know what you were going to get ! Was is exciting , or somewhat disappointing ?
And in regard to the "Out of the closet", and "Pig vs Bob" threads, here we get "Good Lovin'" ( complete with the , frankly ,dull, drum break of the time,) AND a 42 min . Lovelight ! Lots of horsing around, not too much jamming .
I am SURE it was fun , but I might have felt a little cheated .
( i was going to pase the link, but my computer, IA is actiing strange.

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Poster: Jim F Date: Apr 22, 2011 2:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

I can't really add to what LIA said, that's a pretty good summary. I once asked this same question, with similar followups, of a friend of mine who started seeing the band in the 60's.

It began with asking him how he and his peers felt about the difference between seeing them here in St Louis at shows in Feb and April 1969, and the completely different beast of a show here a year later on 5/14/70's legendary, but quite different than early 1969, show (new riders, acoustic sets, etc). They did come through here in between, one of them being the post-bust show (they cancelled the previous night here to play the bail fund in New Orleads) on 2/2/70 of which we have the Dark Star/Stephen/Mason's Children snippit, and he had also seen other shows during the interim.

I specifically wanted to discuss with him how if you only saw local shows, you saw them go from 1968/1969 primal dead, to the ever-evolving Countrydelic Dead of Feb, May, and October 1970, while Live/Dead had just come out mind you, then to the 5 piece bluesy rock act of 3/18/71, to the totally new band of December 1971, then the completely revamped and evolved beast of a post-Europe, Jazz and Country Grateful Dead at the legendary October 1972 three night run (he was at 10/18/72, lucky bastard!) as well as the October 1973 two show run. All this in a span of like 4 years! I couldn't imagine seeing what I in retrospect feel was an entirely different band every year at that point.

It would take too long to discuss all of his answers and our opinions. I could ask him again or dig up old emails, but like I said to begin with, I think LIA, as usual, summed it up pretty well. It is a fascinating subject for me, I hope this thread gets a lot of responses and not regress to a series of "blow me" and sports posts haha.

Oh, but isn't 11/15/69 one of those supposed "worst shows ever!" Or am I thinking of that high school show earlier in the year? I share the sentiment though, listening back, or even just looking at setlists, I can find a lot of shows where I would have felt kindof disappointed afterward. But I see with the context of knowing what they played the night before, and the night after, or the year before and the year after. But the main point is that there must have certainly been varying reactions to the changes when a band evolves so rapidly and changes to drastically in such a short period of time. I mean seeing the band in 1968 and not seeing them again until 1971 would have been absolutely bizarre. Almost any band these days, GD related or otherwise, doesn't really sound that different than they did 2 or 3 years ago. Not nearly as drastic a change as "the good ol days" anyway.

This post was modified by Jim F on 2011-04-22 09:03:59

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 22, 2011 7:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

"It would take too long to discuss?" What the hell? We've got nothing but time here...

11/15/69 is a crummy show, in comparison to.....oh, 11/8/69 for instance. Of course, if you had no other Dead show to compare it to, it might be pretty darn good. Even average Dead is something. But our standards change a lot when we have EVERY show to choose from!

There was a bit of a music press, and people did have (gasp) phones in those days, so the Dead's changes may not have caught everyone completely unawares. I think the first time or two someone saw the Dead would be a big surprise, then after that they'd catch on..."Hey wait - these guys play a different show every time!"
That's just a guess, though; no research involved...

As far as bands changing completely every year or two - maybe it doesn't happen much these days, but it was actually fairly common in the '60s. To name the bands in '69 that sounded little like they had in '67, it would be a pretty long list. Good bands sought change, and surprise was considered a virtue - if only to stay on the charts in an ever-shifting music world. If you sounded like you did last year, you were OUTDATED!

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Poster: Jim F Date: Apr 24, 2011 4:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

That's a great point, about the large number of bands between around 1965-1975 or so that evolved and changed their sound so often and so rapidly. The evolution of Rock and Roll in those years and the many genres that occurred in such a short period of time is mindboggling. You'd need a 20 book Encyclopedia set, a 500 or so CD set, and maybe a 500 dvd set to cover the history of it all.

But ha, yeah, for some reason, the times I pick to think about and reflect and write about these things is always when I should be doing something else, or like today, when I should have been in bed hours ago. It's always "Some other time," or "remind me to tell you..." I have so much trouble keeping up with the internet, but I always try to make a little time every night to check in on the forum here. I just don't feel as compelled as I used to to post much on forums and get into so many discussions and debates that get regurgitated everywhere, I've never been much of a "$0.02" guy. But when I am, it's always some really long, rambling series of tangents (would that be quantity more than quality, or quality more than quantity?). Like right now...

Anywho I do like to read...especially the more retrospective, review type posts. Not so much into debates over the "best" scarlet>fire from 1981.

What was the topic again? Oh hell, even if I remembered, I don't have time to talk about it anyway, I'll get back to it later haha

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 21, 2011 7:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

Live/Dead had been released on Nov 10 - not that the band would have tried to 'play it up' - so the citizens of Crockett might have expected more psychedelic jams than they got.
Then again, maybe everyone went home happy after the nice long Lovelight! They might've gone just to see Pigpen, you know...

The Dead did change a lot over the years, and I assume these changes didn't throw too many people off, considering their audience kept growing. Folks didn't seem to mind all those new country songs in the sets in '69. And nobody was expecting the acoustic sets in 1970, but I don't think anyone complained. In fact, I can hardly think of anything the Dead ever did that LOST them an audience. Maybe it didn't matter what particular things they played, even then.

Then again, I know there were people around '73 who saw them with Keith & Donna and were bitterly disappointed that the Pigpen days were gone. One old-timer griped, "They went soft with that chick." Some fans did stop seeing them once Pigpen was gone, figuring the band just didn't have it anymore.

One reviewer saw them on 10/21/71:
"As far as I was concerned, it had been downhill since Mickey left, and the first time I heard the band with Keith I about puked... They did Dark Star and St Stephen - which ought to have been a thrill, right?... But their performance was so lethargically abysmal, I thought they might as well just hang it up... The Skull & Roses album was a downer... It was becoming depressingly clear that '69-70 would never happen again."

Another reviewer wrote after seeing 3/26/73:
"The music these days isn't what it once was. Gone is Garcia's graceful fluid style of playing. Gone are the times when two drummers pounded out the band's rhythms. Gone are the concerts that started with acoustic instruments and gradually built into an overwhelming electrical wave. Gone are the magical ways the Dead could make the ambience of a rock concert more like a religious service. Gone is colorful vocalist Pigpen, who died several weeks ago.
Instead, the group now uses a loud, dull piano as its basic instrument. The vocals don't sound as self-assured, and the band as a whole seems more like a contrived aggregate than a flowing ensemble."

So basically, I think there were definitely crushed expectations in those days....but people just kept going to see them anyway, and the few who didn't are now mostly laughed at.

addition - One good way to see how the Dead were perceived at the time is to read a review from the time. Here's Robert Christgau writing about their New York summer '69 shows:
"The Dead have not built a large audience in their appearances here, but they are a steady draw. As Garcia says: "We get hard fans. Once we play the same place three or four times we know we have a core of fans that'll stay with us no matter what we do."
Last month the Dead headlined a Fillmore East bill... When the Dead set up with Garcia seated at his newest instrument, a pedal steel guitar, and with Weir singing lead on a succession of country songs (including a brilliant Garcia original, "Don't Murder Me," and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried"), some blues freaks walked out, and one ignoramus started catcalling about "cowboys"...
The Dead aren't cowboys, but their style is so eclectic that it doesn't matter... The country material gave a homier feel to the show... The show also included "King Bee," a Pigpen blues from the group's earliest repertoire, with Garcia contributing an exquisite, effortless three-chorus solo--far from his customary mode... The set ended as usual with Pigpen singing "Love Light" over a tribal jam, complete with dancing in the aisles and on the stage. Most of the audience stood on the seats and screamed for encores. Garcia and Weir responded with a brief acoustic spiritual and were gone. It was the perfect finish, exalted but contained.
That may have been the best set the Dead had ever played in New York. In any case, their weekend at the Fillmore...excited considerable gossip. A month later they returned for an appearance at the Pavilion... With little advance publicity, they drew almost 5,000 fans...
The Dead played one of those titanic sets we'd always dreamed about. It lasted two hours and featured lots of unfamiliar material--some more country songs and a wonderful Pigpen rendition of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle." For that entire time the bulk of the audience stood and listened...many people were dancing.
The set ended with three long improvisatory pieces, including "Love Light" and an encore of "Cosmic Charlie," from Aoxomoxoa. The country and soul songs are essentially warm-ups for this, the Dead's true music, which...always aims toward spiritual exaltation."

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-04-22 02:44:10

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Apr 22, 2011 8:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: the perfect Lovelight description

From Christgau: "The set ended as usual with Pigpen singing "Love Light" over a tribal jam, complete with dancing in the aisles and on the stage."

That just jumped out at me. "Tribal jam" is such a great image, along with the dancing in the aisles and on the stage ... that's what I've sensed from it, actually, and it's why I tend to skip it if I can't focus and get into that space where you CAN sense that.

Not just a "you hadda be there" thing, because that intensity is very strong and really can be sensed. Whereas a Satisfaction or Bob Good Lovin', for instance, would be plain old good fun at the time -- not tribal (except in the general sense that everything was "tribal"), just good fun -- and then less of a satisfying listening experience later.

There's a redundancy to Lovelight that is essentially tribal; but if you just hear the rap (which is often what jumps out under most casual listening circumstances), it's not too interesting. And placement in the show matters, too ... there's a reason it was put at the climactic point. You had to build up to it and be in that space.

Love the Garcia quote about "hard" fans, too. Not core, not zealous, not they'll-follow-us-anywhere, but "hard." Not at all the fuzzy-wuzzy stereotype of later years, eh? Interesting word choice.

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-04-23 03:26:06

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Apr 21, 2011 10:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

I remember when "Wake of the Flood" came out, us teenaged guys thought it was pretty wimpy ( actually it kind of is , when you put all those mellow songs together ). I bet we would have enjoyed that Lovelight more that a 73 Eyes !
In the reviews, I love the guys complaining about the piano, as if it was foreign to Rock ( Jerry Lee, Fats, and Little Richard would disagree ).
Thanks for the interesting response and the usual through documentation.
It is great to see that early Christgau review . He always had a soft spot for the Dead, and he, and his sort of "Koranic" style, can be harsh to the extreme !
I should say, that I directed a rather picky, , non-Deadhead friend to your blog posts on the Velvets, and the Byrds , etc.. He knows his stuff, huge Byrds fan, and he was very favorably impressed .

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 22, 2011 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

Ha ha, yes. Part of my wicked plan to convert those picky Byrds & Velvets fans to the Dead...

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Apr 22, 2011 7:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 11/15/69, Expectations , and more 'out of the closet'

His idea of perfection is a well written, tight 3 minute single . Big Beatles( Revolver era especially), and Elvis Costello fan , you get the drift . He like the early Dead, ( loves the Garcia stuff on the first album, side 1 of Anthem, most of AOX., Workingman's(- Cj), American Beauty except Trucking AND Attics {I just shake my head at that one} . He had 2 from the Vault .
After he read a bunch of your Dead blog stuff, I make a 2 disc highlights of the Fillmore West 69 ( got him both the 2/27 and 3/1 Dark Stars ) . He liked it , SO
you "wicked plan" is working !